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Vitamin & Herb University (VHU): committed to being the information resource leader (and more). (Industry Spotlight).

Vitamin & Herb University (VHU), which was recently launched by Pharmavite LLC, Northridge, CA, is an exhaustive educational resource for pharmacists that is designed to enable them to quickly and accurately answer consumer questions about dietary supplements. This resource is the work of nutritionists, and scientists at Pharmavite. Dr. Steven Yannicelli, director of continuing education at Pharmavite, spearheaded the VHU online project. "This all started because we (Pharmavite) wanted to provide comprehensive information to our key customers regarding the 70 different vitamins, minerals, herbs and other supplements we offer. When we narrowed down what information was most needed, we concluded that. most professionals would need to know about dosage, warnings, benefits, interactions, how to use a particular supplement and if there are any dietary reference intakes (DRI's), especially for vitamins and minerals," he said, adding, "Next, we gathered all of the science and reviewed over 750 different journal, references mid developed a template for which we would full in all of the necessary information. We put all of the information in text form first and had it reviewed by our internal nutritionists and PhD's as well as our scientific advisory board."

There are two parts to VHU: (1) First it is intended to serve as an information resource. For a pharmacist this means they can use it wherever they are stationed in case a customer has a question about a particular supplement. Pharmacists can access supplement information quickly and efficiently because VHU contains several scientific studies regarding dosage, warnings, benefits, interactions, etc. (2) The other part of VHU is its continuing education (CE) programs. As a distance learning module, pharmacists at Pharmavite's retail partners can attain CE credits through an alliance Pharmavite has forged with the University of Georgia.

In order to stay on the cusp of dietary supplement research and to be able to offer its CE programs, VHU is run primarily through its website, www.vitaminherburuver sity.com. Dr. Yannicelli explained, "To maintain an accurate, up-to-date resource we thought the best way to achieve that would be through the VHU website. In addition, this allows pharmacists at their own time and discretion to go home and learn about supplements."

In terms of what Dr. Yannicelli hopes to achieve with VHU, he said; "We are hoping that by disseminating the information this way that pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals, will be able to pro mote safe, responsible supplement use. Some of the issues with supplement. use, in' terms of adverse events, is that there is misinformation on how to properly use them." Another motivating factor according to Dr. Yannicelli, was that pharmacists as well as other healthcare professionals continue to beg for information on supplements because they are unsure how to use them and do not have total access to the research behind them. This pressure to know more about supplements, according to Dr. Yannicelli, has come directly from the consumer. "Consumers continue to ask questions about supplements that pharmacists and healthcare professionals cannot answer because they are not educated on them, When this happens, it is often recommend that consumers not use them at all," he said. "VHU seeks to provide the data an d the research on supplements, so that pharmacists and healthcare professionals alike can be more comfortable discussing and recommending supplements to their customers/patients."

Initially, VHU has been targeted primarily toward pharmacists but Dr. Yannicelli has high hopes of offering this resource to other healthcare professionals in the future. He said this includes physicians, dietitians, nurses, nurse practitioners and basically anyone that needs accreditation to maintain their credentials.
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Author:Madley-Wright, Rebecca
Publication:Nutraceuticals World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2003
Words:593
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